A welder or welder operator is a tradesman
who specializes in welding materials together. The term welder refers to the operator, the
machine is referred to as the welding power supply. The materials to be joined can be metals or
varieties of plastic or polymer. Welders typically have to have good dexterity
and attention to detail, as well as some technical knowledge about the materials being joined
and best practices in the field. Safety issues
Welding, without the proper precautions appropriate for the process, can be a dangerous and unhealthy
practice. However, with the use of new technology and
proper protection, the risks of injury and death associated with welding can be greatly
reduced. Because many common welding procedures involve
an open electric arc or flame, the risk of burns is significant. To prevent them, welders wear personal protective
equipment in the form of heavy leather gloves and protective long sleeve jackets to avoid
exposure to extreme heat and flames. Additionally, the brightness of the weld area
leads to a condition called arc eye in which ultraviolet light causes the inflammation
of the cornea and can burn the retinas of the eyes. Full face welding helmets with dark face plates
are worn to prevent this exposure, and in recent years, new helmet models have been
produced that feature a face plate that self-darkens upon exposure to high amounts of UV light. To protect bystanders, opaque welding curtains
often surround the welding area. These curtains, made of a polyvinyl chloride
plastic film, shield nearby workers from exposure to the UV light from the electric arc, but
should not be used to replace the filter glass used in helmets. Welders are also often exposed to dangerous
gases and particulate matter. Processes like flux-cored arc welding and
shielded metal arc welding produce smoke containing particles of various types of oxides, which
in some cases can lead to medical conditions like metal fume fever. The size of the particles in question tends
to influence the toxicity of the fumes, with smaller particles presenting greater danger. Additionally, many processes produce fumes
and various gases, most commonly carbon dioxide and ozone, that can prove dangerous if ventilation
is inadequate. Furthermore, because the use of compressed
gases and flames in many welding processes pose an explosion and fire risk, some common
precautions include limiting the amount of oxygen in the air and keeping combustible
materials away from the workplace. Welders with expertise in welding pressurized
vessels, including submarine hulls, industrial boilers, and power plant heat exchangers and
boilers, are generally referred to as boilermakers. References See also
Hyperbaric welding Welder certification
Further reading ASM International. Trends in Welding Research. Materials Park, Ohio: ASM International. ISBN 0-87170-780-2
Hicks, John. Welded Joint Design. New York: Industrial Press. ISBN 0-8311-3130-6. Kalpakjian, Serope and Steven R. Schmid. Manufacturing Engineering and Technology. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-201-36131-0.

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